Mizzou: A test of the student’s power, and free speech

Washburn Review Staff

Protests at the University of Missouri over racist hazing of the university’s African American students have sparked national attention, and the media has flocked to continue to update the nation on the situation.

Students aligned with protest group Concerned Student 1950 and petitioned the president of the University, Tim Wolfe, to help solve racism on the school’s campus. During the school’s homecoming parade, protesters ran out to block the president’s car and voice their concerns to him. Wolfe did not respond to them. The student body president Payton Head then came forward with news that that Wolfe had smiled and laughed during the protest.

“He laughed. In our faces. This is your president. This is America. 2015,” said Head.

Following this, Concerned Student 1950 came forward demanding an apology and the resignation of Wolfe, but no immediate response from the university administration was given. Reports indicate Wolfe  later met privately with the group, but refused to meet their demands.

It was discovered afterwards that a student used feces to smear a swastika in one of the residence halls on Oct. 24, and soon after graduate student Jonathan Butler began a hunger strike. The situation escalated when Wolfe’s response to a protester’s question led them to believe that he was blaming them for systematic oppression.

The football team promptly announced they would not play until Wolfe resigned, putting a one million dollar contract for a game at Arrowhead Stadium at risk. Wolfe announced his resignation a day later.

This was a sign of the times, Ichabods. It is well within students’ grasps to make change around them in the name of what’s right. We are lucky to be at a diverse university that welcomes students from all backgrounds, and one where our students, regardless of their background, have a voice. We commend the actions of the student body at the University of Missouri.

Let’s also remember to utilize that voice in a smart way. At one point, protesters at the university’s campus confronted student journalists sent to document the demonstrations. A professor present at the event, Melissa Click, approached another journalist and told him he needed to leave. When he refused, the teacher turned to her fellow protesters asking for help in physically removing the journalist.

“Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here,” Click said. 

Ironically, Click held a courtesy appointment with the university’s school of Journalism.

The entire point of a protest is to draw media attention to a concern or issue. Any time a journalist or reporter comes to an event, their work benefits the cause. Mass media’s goal is to bring news to larger audiences. Remember when working for change, journalists are often one’s best friend.